March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month:
For the millions of people throughout the world with multiple sclerosis, symptoms can be debilitating, especially when it comes to speech difficulties and swallowing problems.
Given that many of the muscles used in speech are also used in swallowing, it’s not surprising that MS patients with speech impediments may also have difficulties in that area.
Swallowing problems, referred to as dysphagia, result from damage to the nerves that control the muscles in the mouth and throat. Symptoms of dysphagia include coughing or choking when eating and feeling like food is stuck in the throat.
If problems with swallowing aren’t corrected, malnutrition or dehydration can result. Lung infections are another possible consequence because food and liquids may be inhaled into the windpipe instead of passing through the esophagus and into the stomach. Once in the lungs, the food can lead to aspiration pneumonia.